She was born August 4, 1916, to J.G. (Gary) and Ruth Herbert Stevenson in Elk Horn, Iowa, on the family farm near Atlantic, Iowa. She had two older sisters, Gretchen and Marjorie. She grew up during the Great Depression, which shaped much of who she was. She was raised on a farm and was very active in 4-H where she learned much about homemaking, canning, and sewing. She (or her mother) made all her clothes (and when she had daughters, made most of theirs.)
She graduated from Atlantic High School in 1934, where she met my father, Irwin Mayberry. She played the alto saxophone in the marching band and she also played the piano. The photo below is of her modeling the latest fashions for the school newspaper.
Mom's early heroine was Amelia Earhart. Mom was very adventuresome for a young woman of her time! In 1936, she and a girlfriend boarded a train in Iowa to attend the San Diego World Exposition in California. In 1939 she travelled by bus to the eastern United States and up into Canada. When she returned, the local Farm Bureau invited her to speak to them about her observations of corn fields in Illinois. The local country schoolhouse was packed to capacity to hear her talk! (On a recent trip to California, Mom recounted this tale to me again. She was still in wonder that people would pack that schoolhouse to listen to HER!)
Mom taught country school in the one-room school house in the Pymosa Township. She has often recalled many wonderful stories such as walking to school in the winter snows, getting there early to get the stove fire going before the children arrived.
I love this photo of Mom at Camp Brewster, near Omaha.
Mom and Dad were married July 21, 1940. They had nearly 67 years of married life together.
Mom was a wonderful cook (as was Dad)! I learned much about cooking for a crowd from my mom!
After several years of marriage and five kids later and our move to California, Mom went to school for her real estate license. It amazes me now to think how she drove from Westchester (near LAX) to downtown Los Angeles at night, no freeways, to take her classes. I was in high school at the time, and went with her on a few occasions because she thought I would like a job as an escrow officer and this would be a good way to introduce me to the "business". Mom was a realtor for several years and even up until a short time ago could relate the details of an early transaction to one of her grandchildren. She was amazing!
We had a wonderful family celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in Solvang, California.
Mom and Dad - 1991 - when health and life were good!
Mom and her five children ready for church on a Sunday morning in 1962.
Mom and Dad and five children in 1979. Love the hair styles!
Our last photo of mom and dad and we five kids and spouses in 2000.
My Mother not only gave me physical life, but she also led me to my spiritual life. In early 1950, Mom and Dad gave their hearts to Jesus Christ and were committed to seeing their children make a choice to follow Christ as well. So when I was a child of nine years of age, she asked me if I wanted to invite Jesus into my heart. I did that and became a child of God and then began my spiritual journey.
My mother has been my mentor on so many levels. I followed the example she set in maintaining a home and giving loving care to her family. I observed her in service to others, whether it be in PTA or in teaching Sunday School or working in women's ministry. I watched as she balanced home life, church life, and a real estate career that, at the time, was pretty much of a man's world. Yet, she held her own and was well-respected. Truly, much of what I am today is because of my Dear Mother. She has been the Prayer Warrior and Spiritual Rock for our family. I can't imagine life without her!
In the last few years mom would often question why she was "still here". I always responded with, "Mom your family needs you to pray for them." The last night I visited her in her own home, I heard a loud voice from her bedroom. As I went to her closed door I realized she was praying! She was pouring out her heart to the Lord praying for her children, grandchildren, and great grand-children. I must admit I had to stand there and evesdrop for a while. I thought to myself that if I never heard my mother's voice again, I would know the last time I heard it was in prayer for her family. What a gift!
Mom joins Dad and our brother-in-law Beau, who have been waiting for her in Heaven. She leaves behind five adoring children, Carolyn Jo (Rich), Cheryl (John), Kathy, Steve, Joel (Nan), nine grandchildren who treasure their memories, and 22 great-grandchildren whom she has loved and prayed for. May God be praised!
"Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14:1-4